Meet Ana Villafañe, the Actress Playing Gloria Estefan on Broadway
Ana Villafañe is making her Broadway debut playing Gloria Estefan in the musical On Your Feet!, opening Nov. 5. It’s a dream-come-true moment for her and her entire family.
After hearing she got the part, “I started crying,” Villafañe, who hails from Miami, tells PEOPLE. “I’m not much of a crier, but I lost it. I was hysterical. I told my sister and my mom first. They went crazy. My mom being Cuban, of course, it was huge for her. Obviously, Gloria is like the Queen. Then, I went immediately to get a glass of champagne.”
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The singer-actress, 26, chatted with PEOPLE about her new role, the pressure that comes with it and how her Plan B involved joining “a freak show!” Here are five things you need to know about the super-fun Villafañe:
She gets a little nervous when Gloria Estefan and husband Emilio are in the audience.
“They are so warm. They’ve welcomed me into their family, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t extra pressure. I think it’s kind of like that thing, if you’re an athlete and your mom and dad are in the crowd, versus when they’re not. You just want to make them proud so badly. You just want to see that look in their eyes afterward like, ‘Oh, I made you proud mom and dad.’ It’s that feeling.”
She’s a warm-blooded, Southern girl excited for winter – sort of.
“It’s not even November yet and I’m already so terrified of the cold. The good thing is I get to go shopping! I get to hit Bloomingdale’s and go all out. I’m like ‘Boots!’ I never used to be able to wear boots without people thinking I’m crazy. A nice coat, one of those padded jackets where you feel like you’re wearing a marshmallow. I’m excited for the fashion part.”
She has a really bizarre hidden talent.
“I can shake my eyeballs. If I focus really, really intensely and I really, really think about it, I can vibrate my eyes. It’s really creepy. I could go join a freak show somewhere. That’s something to look forward to! My parents were always asking me, ‘What’s your Plan B?’ I was like, ‘Stop being so pessimistic, I don’t have a Plan B!’ Now I’ve figured it out.”
She was inspired by the classics.
“I got bit by the theater bug after seeing The Wizard of Oz and Grease. It was pretty early on, I would say I was nine years old. I had my entire fourth-grade class put on a production of Grease in my grandmother’s backyard. I was Sandy and did the casting and choreography. It was a thing!”
She also stars in the upcoming action film Max Steel.
“My role is Sophia. I love that she makes all the first moves. She’s kind of outgoing. He’s the one stuttering. Usually it’s switched around. The girl’s stuttering and the man has all the power. In this case, it was kind of fun because I had all the power.”
For more from this rising star, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now